If you ever go to Portugal, there’s one thing you have to try at least once: bacalhau. Honestly, bacalhau, is just the Portuguese word for cod. What’s fairly unique about it in Portugal is the way it’s been preserved: with salt. This tradition dates back to the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and has been maintained since, the main difference being that most of the fish caught nowadays comes from Norway.
In my experience salted cod is endemic to Portugal and is hard to find abroad. One has to rely on a dedicated Portuguese shop. It requires some forethought to cook, as it has to be soaked for 24-48 hours beforehand. The salting process leaves you with a particularly salty fish, so you should add minimal amounts of salt when cooking. What’s easier to use is the fish that’s been salted, soaked, and frozen (demolhado e ultra-congelado is the slogan to a popular brand in Portugal). These tend to have lost most of the salt, so adding salt while cooking isn’t as delicate a process.
There are a fabled thousand-and-one ways of cooking it. Espiritual, à Gomes Sá, com natas, cozido com todos, roupa velha… we even have two types of bacalhau fish cakes! What I wanted to share with you this time is a widespread classic that is relatively simple to make: bacalhau à brás. Continue reading